The Complexities of Being an American Abroad

Natalie Glick - Brazil


September 12, 2018

Today is 9/11. It’s a day that is normally filled with remembrance, a day I personally don’t remember all that well, but it still holds a deep place in my heart. 9/11 was a day that changed The United States of American forever. 17 years ago today 3,201 people lost their lives to a terrorist attack, yet where I am, no one has mentioned it. Today has been like another Tuesday in Brazil. My host family went to work and school, I stayed at home to sit with my thoughts. 
I don’t consider myself to be a very patriotic person. Currently I find myself more conflicted with what I means to be an American. Since  Donald Trump got elected it’s been hard for be to understand the country that I call my home. I grew up with the idea of Hope, that America can change for the better. I have a very clear memory of watching former President Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration. I was in third grade, I sat in the lower school library with a crappy TV, and my class watched the first African American become President of the United States. At the time I know I didn’t fully understand the significance of the moment in terms of political shifts, but I knew it was special. 
As President Obama’s terms went on, and I grew up more, I become more aware of his messages of diversity, values, and respect. He was the president that taught me what I meant to be an American. But on November 8, 2016 that all came crashing down.
I saw a president who stood for everything that I was against. When that happened I started to rethink what I means to be an American. I am still proud of the red, white, and blue that is connect to American. I am still proud to be from a country the calls themselves the land of the free, yet so many aren’t free. Where in some states guns are less regulated then abortions. How can I be proud when there are so many problems that seem so fixable if we just had a functional government, but I have learned that I can. 
Yes, American is deeply flawed, and it has so many problems, but there are still things to be proud of. My host family has a fascination with American culture, they love to watch American movies on Netflix. They often ask me about what growing up in the U.S. is like. There is a bit of a mystery to it all for them. 
I have only been away from home for a short time, but I have already started grappling with the question of : “what does it mean to be an American abroad?”. There is President Trump, and his America, the one filled with hate, and former President Obama’s America, filled with hope. Then there is my America which has a lot more grey area then I originally thought. But today I reflect on all the lives that were lost. All the Americans who weren’t able to continue living their lives. The ones who were killed trying to get home to their loved ones, the ones who died sitting on the plane, or sitting in a building at work, or the ones who tried to save the people. I may not be in America at this moment, but apart of me will alway be there. Weather I am proud or not I am American and always will be.

Natalie Glick